Five days and a chest cold into our new life in Bangkok, I finally made it out for my first foray into one of our local markets. It took me a few seconds to register that something was different when I came across the meat and seafood section.
It was a central display just behind where I stood when I took this picture – the sort you typically see for fruits – where different chicken cuts and slabs of bacon were laid out that snapped me out of my semi-engaged mosey down the aisles. A woman was handling various chunks of bacon back the same way I might handle cantaloupes or avocados to check for ripeness. She was picking up and tossing back different pieces until she had filled a bag; I’d say she had at least 20 pounds of bacon in there.
Now I am not generally too squeamish. I love the southern european markets where all of the animal is available for view. I believe if you are going to eat meat, you should know what it is and where it comes from. I don’t even think I mind people handling the meat -or at least I can see myself getting over that- unless of course I plan on making steak tartare.
What gets to me is what is she doing with her hands after she finishes bagging that quarter pig? Is she off to rummage through vegetables? Check some fruits for ripeness? Or in my worst case scenario, reach out and ruffle my child’s hair or touch her cheek as EVERYONE seems to do here in Asia? I did not spot the use of a wet wipe or see a packet of tissues come out of her handbag let alone a bottle of Purell. Is she just going to move on her ‘meaty’ way.
I do want to say that the market, including the meat area, was impeccable and everything smelled incredibly fresh. I may have opted for some chicken under cellophane today but I don’t plan on being so coy on my next visit. I will however have some hand sanitizer and I’ll be leaving the children at home.
Recently at an Amish market in NJ, I watched in drop jawed horror as the teen-aged Amish girl picked up the fresh lamb roast from case with her bare hands, plopped it onto the counter to hack off 2 lbs, wrapped it loosely in saran wrap and then picked it up from the counter with same bare hands, and handed my roast to me with one hand while accepting my credit card with the other. I know it’s been said metaphorically before, but there was literally blood on my Visa.
Oh Lesley – the blood on your visa is a fab image. At least in BKK, the payment is handled somewhere else! But then I haven’t visited a wet market yet…
Oh my goodness! I always complain about the overpackaging in Japan- but this would make me more uncomfortable. Is there a happy medium somewhere?
I know right?! That said, if I have to chose between the two, I’d opt for ‘hands on’ over tons of plastic and styrofoam – both for the wastefulness and because I lack the dexterity required for most packaging. (damn you cling film). I just need to remember to wash and dry my meat the same way I do my fruit and vegetables.